Rush - Sheffield Motorpoint Arena
After a massively successful US tour in 2010 that centred around a complete run through of their classic Moving Pictures album, Canadian rock behemoths Rush decided that, rather than head to the studio to record a new album , they would bring the Time Machine Tour to Europe. With the deluxe edition of the aforementioned album just released, and reviewed here by our very own Freddy Palmer, it couldn’t have been a better, or more timely, decision.
An excellent and very funny intro video kicked off the first half of the show before the band hit then hit the stage running with a storming run through of ‘Spirit Of Radio’ that got the crowd on their feet and clapping and singing along. This first portion of the evening was a mixture of the old and the new with recent Record Store Day single ‘BU2B’ being the surprising highlight. The old school rock riffing proved that just because a band have been around for 40 odd years doesn’t mean they are past it. It also seems to have been written to reduce the strain on Geddy Lee’s voice, which did show occasional signs of the wear and tear that so many years on the road is likely to take on any singer, let alone one with such a distinctive set of pipes. As high school anthem ‘Subdivisions’ led in to an intermission we were left gawping in amazement at the sheer brilliance of the performance so far.
Another fantastic video set the scene perfectly for the centre piece of the night: Moving Pictures in all its glory - and boy, is it ever glorious. From classic single ‘Tom Sawyer’ through the instrumental wonder of ‘YYZ’ t a spooky and flame filled take on ‘Witch Hunt’, this is a performance of an album that enthrals from start to finish. (And is just at home in the live arena as it is on your state of the art Matsui mini-system.) This would have been a fitting ending to any gig but there was yet more magic to come. Another newbie, ‘Caravan’, led in to the drum solo - which in the hands of the mere mortal drummer is nothing more than an exercise in vanity and the perfect pee break but, with Neil Peart, it is essential listening and viewing. ‘Closer To The Heart’, parts of ‘2112’ and, finally, ‘Far Cry’ bring the main set to a close before a staggering ’La Villa Strangiatio’ and extended, funked-up ‘Working Man’ brings us to the end of three hours of non-stop musical magnificence.
Rush may never fashionable but with stunningly performed music combined with a dazzling light show, loud bangs aplenty, flamethrowers, a man in a monkey suit and even a chef overseeing rotisserie chickens being cooked on stage, it is hard to imagine a band who could provide a better evening’s entertainment.
Photos by Mike Gray from Manchester Evening News Arena on 19th May 2011.